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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default 2023 East Coast History Report

    My husband and I just returned from a 17-day trip to the East Coast and the South. When we moved here to Missouri, we had decided that for awhile, our trips would concentrate on the eastern side of the country, which is far more accessible to us now. This report will be written by areas we visited, rather than day-to-day as I have often done in the past. That we go!


    We took two days to drive the almost 1100 miles to our first destination, Williamsburg, Virginia. Our routing was I-44/I-270/I-255 and then I-64 for the rest of the way out there, except for a belt loop around the north side of Richmond. We had to skirt around St Louis (thus, 270 and 255), but we went straight through Louisville on I-64. After an overnight stop at Winchester, KY (just east of Lexington), we continued through KY, WVa, and into Virginia. Honestly, much of West Virginia's portion of I-64 was under construction. Grrrrr!

    For Williamsburg, we stayed in one place for the 5-days, 6-nights that we were there, choosing Best Western Williamsburg Historic District, which was within a 17 minute walk from Colonial Williamsburg. Our goals for the area were Jamestowne, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg. Prior to our trip, we ensured that we had our military national parks & monument pass, and military tickets to Colonial Williamsburg.

    View of the Ohio River as we crossed into Kentucky:

    View out the window at the Capitol building in West Virginia. By the time we completed the trip, we had driven through five state capital cities, though we did not catch the Capitol building in any but this one. Since we were trying to make 550 miles on this day, there was no pulling over to get a better photo.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Jamestowne Rediscovered


    There are two ways to explore the first colony, and one of them is the NPS site at Jamestown Island. We spent the better part of a day there. It was an eye-opener, as so much of what we think we know about Jamestown is simply fiction. This unit is an active archaealogical dig, and I was a bit disappointed that we were there on a Saturday when they were not actively digging. Visitors with NPS passes should also know that this site charges an additional fee over and above the pass or your entrance fee.

    You park in one area, and then walk out to the island oou n a boardwalk that goes over a swamp. This swamp was filled with turtles sunbathing.

    Once on the island, you come to a monument to all the settlers and their leaders.

    You come to a brick front church, which historians believe to be the third church. It was beautiful, inside and out.

    As I stated, this was an active dig site. Here, they have excavated what seems to be a cellar kitchen.
    IMG_807 8

    Excavators have found several wells. What they have noticed is that there is a record amount of material in them, and have ascertained that the colonists would use a well until it ran dry, then fill it with their trash. Their trash has become our treasure of history.

    Jamestowne, like other sites in the Virginia Historical Triangle, has reenactors to help the public understand the history from the point of many -- whether it was that of colonist, slave, or Native American. Here, one of the members of the Powhatan tribe spoke to us about life in the colony from the Native viewpoint.

    This, for me, was time well-spent. We stopped at the glassblowing exhibit on the way out, but I did not get photos.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default A Day in Colonial Williamsburg

    This place has been on my proverbial "wish list" for many years. It became the reason we went to that area of Virginia this time. You are immersed into the colonial times by walking through preserved/rehabilitated homes and businesses, walking down lanes, and conversing with the "characters", re-enactors who are very versed in their role and how that person's life in the colonial days would have been lived. It's very much like a theme park, though, in that you walk A LOT. I think we walked about 7 miles that day. There is a shuttle but it goes *around* Colonial Williamsburg, so you'd still have to go to an outer loop bus stop, wait for a bus, ride it to the next stop, and then walk back in. We didn't use it much except the ride from the parking lot/visitor center, to the first stop, and then picked it up again to ride to our vehicle.

    We took the first drop off at the Governor's Palace. It wasn't open yet for tours, so we started to walk down the tree lined lane. The weather was absolutely perfect. A little later, this area was used to show young people some of the games of the colonial days - stick and hoop, etc.

    We walked and walked, finally landing at the Capitol Building where a tour was just forming. Some buildings are open only with a guide, dressed to the nines in the appropriate costume.

    The first capitol of Virginia:

    Our tour guide through the Capitol:

    Christiana Campbell's Tavern, which is still run as a restaurant in colonial style. We made note of its location, not far from the Capitol. Later that evening, we had dinner there. Evidently this was a favorite place for George Washington to eat when he had business at the Capitol, and his favorite was the fried chicken. They still use the original recipe, and I can tell you, it was DELICIOUS.

    Some of the shops are working shops, others are gift shops, and some are a combination of the two. One shop, combo type, told about women's fashions of the colonial area, and then in the back, they had things to buy including fabric, embroidery kits, and more. This was in the front part of the place, a woman's "pocket", which were separate from their skirt.

    A working shop, cabinetry, furniture and harpsichords. Many of the working shops at CW create authentic-style pieces for other museums of living history like CW.

    Your feet get tired? Hire a carriage for a ride! No, we didn't -- allergic to horses!

    At last, the Governor's Palace was open with a guided tour. Beautiful!

    We ended our afternoon at Colonial Williamsburg, by watching a performance of the Fife and Drum Corps. We walked to a nearby shuttle stop afterwards, took purchases out to our vehicle when we arrived back at the Visitor Center, and then caught another shuttle out to Christiana Campbell's Tavern for our dinner reservation. After dinner, we headed back to our hotel -- then realizing that we were about 10 minute walk from the Tavern and a little further walk to a meal another night at King's Arms Tavern. (We liked both, but we really felt like Christiana's was better.

    Fife and Drum marching back to their quarters:

    Fried chicken meal at Christiana Campbell's Tavern:

    Live music at the CC Tavern, an Irish harpist:

    We rode a shuttle back to the Visitor Center, found that our vehicle was one of the lone ones left in that section, and headed back to the motel to collapse -- we were TIRED!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Thank You!!

    Donna, having lived within a half day's drive of Williamsburg it was always something I could do maņana, until I moved away and couldn't anymore. Clearly I missed out and will make sure to get to it the next time I'm back near my ancestral home and have that spare day.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Two Days in Yorktown

    Yorktown National Military Park and Historical Yorktown & Riverfront Walk

    The third corner of the Virginia Historical Triangle is Yorktown. We didn't do them in the order of history, but we felt we really saw them and learned a lot. Yorktown, especially, as it was both a site of a major Revolutionary War battle, as well as one in the Civil War.

    You can tour Yorktown NMP in two different loops. The loop with points A to F is more extensive, with lots of walking possible (and suggested) and better informative signage. It took us the better part of 5 hours to do that tour, at which point we went to historical Yorktown and found a late lunch/early dinner there on the Riverfront Walk. We returned to do the second loop on a different day, but found it wasn't nearly as extensive. Also, to get to points F and beyond, one had to drive over an earthen dam, signed "Weight Limit 5 Tons". Our truck weighs just under 9,000 lbs.

    Photos are so much better than words for this place, so here goes. We take you first to The Hornwork.

    The British Defense Line:

    You know you're on a national military battlefield when you see split rail fences and old artillery:

    Yorktown National Cemetery. Like many war cemeteries, there are unmarked gravesites.

    Redoubt #9:

    Redoubt #10:

    The Moore House:

    The Surrender Field:

    It's hard to believe that such a peaceful, surrender field (and forest) could ever have hosted a major battle.

    Lunchtime! We ate at a place on the Riverfront Walk called Water Street Grille. They had an interesting collection of beer taps on the wall. They keep a few standard beers on tap, but they rotate others in/out and are always trying new ones.

    We took a walk down the Riverfront Walk while we were there. It didn't last long, though, as it decided to try to rain.

    We even walked under that bridge:

    As for Day two of Yorktown, I can't believe neither of us took any photos! But then I stop to realize, this was mostly places where the various combatants resided, and all we looked at were either fields or into forests (some of which were not there during the Revolutionary War). Mostly we'd pull over on the one way road and whoever had the sign on their side of the truck, got to read it aloud.

    The second visit to Yorktown sparked an idea that completely changed the ending of our 17-day trip. I'll keep you in suspense for now, but suffice it to say that we went back to our lodging and started cancelling some reservations and booking new ones elsewhere.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Plantation Day

    AZBuck, we've said that about Branson ever since we got here. It's only 3 or 4 hours, but still we say "We'll go sometime..."


    Our final day in the Williamsburg was the result was a conversation with one of the volunteers at Colonial Williamsburg. She had told us about some old plantations that were open to tourists for a small fee. So, off we went for a mostly-country drive.

    The first plantation we stopped at was that of President John Tyler. Our volunteer had told us that the plantation was still in the hands of the Tyler family, all these years later! Though open for visitors, it was $10 each just to walk the grounds, and $35 each to see the inside of the home, by appointment only. We moved on. There were others, but not open because we chose to do this tour on a Monday.

    We ended up at the Berkeley Plantation, which had been the birthplace of William Henry Harrison. William Henry Harrison had been our 9th president, the oldest president to be elected up to that point, and the first president to die in office after only serving 32 days. (He was succeeded by John Tyler, above.) His father, Benjamin Harrison V, had been a signer of the Declaration of Independence. William Henry Harrison's grandson, Benjamin Harrison, became our 23rd president.

    One at Berkeley, we paid a modest entrance fee and went for the guided tour of the inside of the home. We were not allowed to photograph while inside, so my photos are mostly of the grounds.

    Outside, on the back porch, we began our tour:

    Our tour ended with the explanation of why there was a cannonball in the separate-kitchen exterior. No, they had not gotten bombed during the Revolution OR the Civil War, though the house was taken over for headquarters during the Civil War.

    Other photos from the grounds, including the James River.


    A magnolia tree blossom:


    If you have ever seen the movie "Harriet", Hollywood rebuilt some slave quarters on the Berkeley Plantation property. We were told, very adamantly, that these were NOT authentic to what slaves would have actually lived in, on Berkeley.

    Thus ended our stay at Williamsburg. In the next post, we will move on south.
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-17-2023 at 07:03 AM. Reason: fixed html issue on photo

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default On the Road Again - Heading South

    A Bridge-Tunnel and a Swamp

    Sometimes you have to take a short travel day to get to your next destination, but the journey can be interesting and beautiful if you let it be. Such was our trip out of Williamsburg to the next location: Nags Head, NC, on the Outer Banks. By the shortest route, it would be around a 140 - 150 mile trip. The route we took was a bit longer than that!

    We headed out extremely late for us, 10 am, but at least we missed all the "lovely" Norfolk-bound rush hour traffic on I-64! We turned off I-64 onto I-664, and within a few miles, we had to cross the water on the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, AKA MMMBT. This one had no toll, for which we were grateful.

    Leading to the MMMBT:

    In the tunnel, it was a bit disconcerting to see puddles on the side.

    Exiting the tunnel:

    After a brunch in either Chesapeake or Suffolk, we turned off I-664 onto US-13. We were headed to a National Wildlife Refuge, the Great Dismal Swamp. The name had intrigued me, and we knew we had lots of time to get where we were going. We had to follow both GPS and the few brown signs to get to the GDS Headquarters. Once there, we checked in with the rangers, then took a short nature walk through the forest.

    The trail through the woods, about 1/4 mile long.

    We then set out on a 6-mile driving tour. The road was "just okay" -- gravel, parts of it well-maintained, parts of it like washboard, probably because it's been built up through the swamp. There were stops to see parts where the Underground Railroad had to come through. There was another nature trail to take, but at 1 mile round trip, we chose not to take it.


    At last, we reached the far point of the road, Lake Drummond. This was a natural lake, only rowboats allowed, fishing okay from either the pier or a boat. This was so peaceful after driving urban freeways earlier!

    After returning to the main road, we took two "back roads" to get us back to VA-32, then US-158. One of the back roads crossed the state line into North Carolina, so I was disappointed not to get my Welcome to NC sign photo! Once on US-158 we were headed east. In one small town, we came to backed up traffic and soon found out, we were waiting for the bridge, lifted to allow sea traffic in, to lower!

    Here we are, finally getting to cross that water ourselves.

    Soon we were ready to cross the Wright Memorial Bridge across the Sound.

    We checked into our hotel, Comfort Inn South Oceanfront, right after check-in time. We had a "balcony room", "ocean view". Yes, it's a bit pricier, but it turned out to be great. Here's our view:

    For two people who once lived 30 miles from the Pacific and rarely went to the beach, we were (almost) ready for that when we saw the next view.
    IMG_6336 (1)

    In the next post or two, we will continue our tour of the Outer Banks. BTW, if you like the photos and want to see more, click on the photo's blue link. That will take you to my subscription public Flickr page.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Outer Banks: Wright Brothers Memorial aka "Kitty Hawk"

    Where It Happened: Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk

    Another "bucket list" place to visit, the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kill Devil Hills had been on our minds for years, and the reason we took that trip to Dayton this past spring.

    Pulling into the Memorial, like most NPS sites we'd been in so far, our military lifetime pass got us in free. Our first stop, as always, was to the Visitor Center. Having been to Dayton just recently, and read David McCullough's book about the Wright Brothers, we skimmed over it, anxious to get outside and look around. And walk. And walk. And walk some more.

    This path, one of the first things you get to, shows you how far the Wrights flew on each of the four famous flights.

    You also see their "home away from home", the sheds that the men, with help from nearby neighbors, built for both living and for storing their "flying machines". These, of course, are replicas. Winds and storms tore the originals away long, long ago.

    To see where the men took off from, Kill Devil Hill, you walk UP a series of sidewalks. Yes, we walked up that, and realized why it must have gotten the name "Kill Devil". Back in 1903, it was all sand. But to keep it from blowing away, a specific type of grass was planted on it. Then they put a heavy memorial on it, and who knows what went under it to support it in all that sand.

    There were so many other visitors to the top of that hill, that it was difficult to get a picture that didn't have a lot of people in it. We'd like to go back to the Outer Banks on a shoulder season, when it's less populated!

    When we went back to the hotel, after finding lunch, we headed for the beach! We hadn't any beach chairs to bring from home -- they all got trashed in California -- but we bought a couple from a local store. Here are some of the necessary Outer Banks beach pictures.




  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Outer Banks - Scenic Drive - Lighthouses

    A Scenic Drive on Cape Hatteras National Seashore

    Our second full day on the Outer Banks was spent mostly doing a scenic drive down the islands. It wasn't a perfect day, but at least it was dry (most of the time). There are no fees to drive the highway, but if you choose to camp or walk up a lighthouse, there is a charge.

    Our first stop was at the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Lighthouses are distinctive in at least two days: first, each is painted in a different manner. Bodie Island Light is black and white striped, across. The second difference is the pattern of their lights as they were seen from the water. The best way to describe it is like Morse Code, with lights.

    This year, the only lighthouse open for the climb was Bodie Island. We chose not to climb it, for a number of reasons, but the ranger allowed us to go inside and get the iconic shot looking up.

    A bonus at the Bodie Island Lighthouse stop is the boardwalk over the swamp. We were able to view a few wildlife, such as turtles, fish, and an egret (or similar).


    Bodie Light caretakers home:

    From there, we moved on south, marveling at the sand dunes on both sides of us, and occasionally, the bridge built to get us from one island to the next:

    We drove through little towns like Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, that have facilities for tourists. We were trying to find a Life Saving Station that was on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore map, but found out later, it was shut down for rehabilitation but funds dried up. On we moved, through Avon, to the next stop: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This one is not available to climb OR go into. The other amazing this about this particular light? It was actually MOVED when the sand around it was beginning to be taken over by the Atlantic.
    Notice the paint pattern of this light, compared to Bodie Island light:

    Part of the moving path, in 1999, though it's been replanted:

    The caretakers' home:

    This light's base:

    It began to rain while we were at Cape Hatteras Light, so we chose not to go any further down the Outer Banks. Instead, we headed back towards Nags Head. With assistance from a ranger at the Light, we found the Chicamacomico Life Saving Station. Unfortunately, it wasn't run by the NPS. So we just took photos on the outside and moved on. The reason for wanting to see a Life Saving Station was related to the Wright Brothers -- they were given assistance by the nearby Life Saving Station to Kill Devil Hills.


    By the time we got back to our lodging, the sun had come out. So we chose to spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the beach. We would be sad to leave the Outer Banks the next day, but our reservations awaited us. Besides, Outer Banks in season has rather expensive lodging. There are just a few motels, mostly mom-and-pop, an occasional chain (Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn have properties), but the vast majority of tourists stay in VRBO/Air BnB. We neither needed that much space and none of our family members could go with us to share one. The smaller properties were either already booked or not by the beach.
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-18-2023 at 07:21 AM. Reason: Fixed an html issue for photo

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Moving on South

    To Charleston, and Fort Sumter

    We had a day of driving, which was notable for only a few things. Our route was US-64 West, which is slated to become I-87 between Rocky Mount and Columbia NC. Then we turned south on I-95. We dreaded that, but with the one exception, it turned out to be pretty decent for a Friday. Then south on I-26, which was more congested. The other notable thing was coming up behind a tanker truck whose "home base" was 10 miles from us in Missouri. He may have wondered about the crazy lady waving to him madly out the pickup window, unless he noticed the license plates.

    The other notable thing was about our lodging here in Charleston. When we made the reservations in March, I had noticed that many places around were already booked. I wondered if something was up. Found out that, no, it often gets that way on a weekend. We chose a mid-range Sleep Inn, which was probably the worst place we stayed at, during the whole trip. Hot and cold faucets were reversed, the refrigerator didn't work at all (though to the manager's credit, he found a working one for us rather than making us move to another room), and the place was in a rather depressed area. It was close to a Ruby Tuesday restaurant, which we chose for dinner one night, and just appetizer and a drink on Saturday night.

    Fort Sumter Tour

    The only way to visit Fort Sumter, which had been on our "must see" list for a number of years, was to take a tour boat. We got our tickets online, deciding to leave from Mount Pleasant's Patriots Point instead of downtown Charleston, because of parking. (It is NEVER fun to park a 6'8" tall, 21' long truck in a parking garage. Some don't want us because we weigh almost 5 tons, too.)

    At Patriots Point, there is the Naval and Maritime Museum, and two warships that one can tour. We did not do any of those, but could look at them from the outside. The only one of the warships of interest was USS Laffey, DD-724, because it was the same class of destroyer that my husband's dad served aboard, during the Korean War.

    USS Laffey, DD-724:

    USS Yorktown, CV-10:

    Our tour boat out to Fort Sumter:

    It was a beautiful day for a boat trip on Charleston Harbor. It took us about 45 minutes to get out to the Fort, we had a 10 minute talk from a ranger (optional) and 50 minutes to look around -- not enough, IMHO -- before the need to be back on the boat.

    First view of Fort Sumter, site of the first shots that started the Civil War:

    The battery:

    Inside the fort:


    Inside the museum was the flag that was fought over, but ultimately saved and rehung after the Civil War ended (if I remember the story correctly):

    All too soon we had to reboard the tour boat and head back to Patriots Point. These tours are impeccably timed so that no more than one tour boat capacity was on the island at any one given time. Tickets are around $35 each unless you qualify for senior, military, or are a child. Ours were $30 each. Money well spent, in our opinion, but we'd have liked more time out there.

    We sailed by this bridge, but had had to drive it to get to Patriots Point. As we did, we vaguely remembered driving it back in 2012 when we came up from Florida via US-17. At the time, we hadn't stopped to see Fort Sumter, but stated that sometime in the future, we would. So we did.

    As we left Charleston the following day, it was on the new plans for the trip. Old plans? To head up to Great Smoky Mountains, then head west on I-40 and then I-24 to Paducah, and go home from there on a yet-to-be-determined route. New plans? We headed north to I-20, then west through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, driving through more state capitals.
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-19-2023 at 07:09 AM. Reason: fixed typo

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